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The Truth About Safe Heart Rates While Pregnant

Find out how high you can safely push your heart rate while exercising.
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profile picture of Ashley Roman, MD
Updated
January 24, 2022
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In the past, it was recommended that pregnant women keep their heart rate below 140 beats per minute, but those strict guidelines have since been eliminated. Experts now say you don’t need to stick to any specific heart rate limits while exercising during pregnancy.

Instead of focusing on the number on a heart rate monitor, know the signs you should look for in your own body. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. What’s considered a moderate workout? Your heart rate is raised—with no max limit—and you’re starting to sweat, but you can still talk normally. As a mom-to-be, you should never exercise so vigorously that you’re out of breath or can’t finish a sentence.

Pushing yourself too hard can raise your body temperature, which can lead to birth defects. It can also lead to dehydration, which could put you at risk for preterm labor. If you’re extremely thirsty, fatigued, have a headache, are dizzy or lightheaded, or have dark-colored pee, chances are you’re dehydrated. (Remember that pregnant women typically need between 8 and 12 glasses of water per day, and even more if you’re exercising.)

According to the ACOG, if you see any of the following warning signs, stop exercising immediately and reach out to your healthcare provider:

  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Shortness of breath before starting exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Regular, painful contractions of the uterus
  • Fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina

For specific questions and concerns, reach out to your doctor. And remember to get their green light before starting any new pregnancy workouts.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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